Lead Follow Up- The Undervalued Skill of Dental Practices
– by Bill Mulcahy
Modern dentistry can be extremely competitive. In markets around the United States, dental practices face constant competition from practices targeting the same (hopefully quality) new patients.
The internet is a primary battleground where practices compete. Many of today’s most successful dentists utilize extensive digital marketing strategies to set them apart from and connect them with the highest quality patients.
For over ten years, Dental Revenue has specialized in helping dentists implement these strategies using a marketing system called the Performance Program. At its core, the program is a collection of software and services designed to help dental practices generate quality new patients and revenue. To achieve desired results on the web, dental practices must be easily found and then chosen by the right patients. This choice does not guarantee success; it merely generates a phone call or website form. The success of the marketing program is 100% dependent on the office’s ability to convert the incoming opportunity.
Leads are frequently the most undervalued benefit of dental marketing programs, likely because lead follow-up is often the most misunderstood element of success. There is a general perception that leads (especially forms from the websites) are less valuable. The reality, however, is that in most dental marketing programs, the leads represent two-thirds of the opportunity generated, and the best offices convert close to 85% of those leads into appointments.
The terrifying reality is that there is very little accountability built into the culture of most dental practices when it comes to following up on leads, so these leads are followed up on once, if at all. Historical data tells us that it takes between 4-5 times to reconnect with a potential patient after they submit a form. If they are not followed up with, they are more likely to begin their search again than to try to call back.
A Real-Life Example
Last week I received this email from a client. It is a familiar example of how a lack of follow up can cause a practice to miss out on a great opportunity.
“I counted 80 Prospective NPs that did NOT get scheduled!”
Our conversation last month about online form submission follow-ups really got me thinking so I decided to do some investigating. Just today, I found a file in my front desk administrators drawer called “Potential NPs.” I reviewed the forms (many emails that she printed from the appointment requests coming through the website) I counted 80 Prospective NPs that did NOT get scheduled (my blood pressure skyrocketed!!!). All were sent one 1 email as follow up and no phone calls made. So, a total of 80 New Patient opportunities were missed due to lack of follow up. Needless to say, we are having a team meeting on Wednesday about this. Do you have a written system you can share with me that has worked in other offices?
Thanks for any help!
Think of the Potential
While this is an extreme case, unless you have a follow-up process in place, this is happening to some degree at your practice. Let’s say that conservatively only 20 of the 80 opportunities she told us about turned into new patients. If we valued a new patient at about $5,000, that would mean that the practice missed out on $100,000. If they are able to convert 40 (or half the forms), that means they missed out on $200,000, and with 60, they missed out on $300,000. The point is that it is extremely important for your practice to follow up on leads.
What Can We Do?
Here is the Dental Revenue suggested formula for follow up.
Website Form Follow Up Process
The Basic Rule to follow: 12, 48, 5, 10, 30
- 1st Follow Up is a phone call/email within 12 hours of receiving the lead (unless a weekend)
- 2nd Follow Up is a phone call/email 48 hours after receiving
- 3rd Follow Up is five days after receiving
- 4th Follow Up is ten days after 2nd follow up
- Add lead to a database that gets a monthly contact (group email blast- most common, individual email, phone call, etc.) You can also use these leads to try to fill open appointment slots. Remember, even if they are hard to get ahold of they chose you.
There is Hope!
The good news is that many practices may have an opportunity to increase revenue without increasing their marketing investment. By increasing accountability, implementing a sound lead follow up process, and treating all leads with a greater sense of priority, dentists have a natural way to make a positive impact on their practices.
If you would like more information on lead follow-up or other online marketing topics, please feel free to send us a message today!